Israeli War Vet Slams Claims That Iconic Story of His Heroism Was Made Up

As the legend goes, Zvika Greengold single-handedly destroyed 60 Syrian tanks during the Yom Kippur War; the retired colonel says that claims that the story was made up are 'blood libel.'

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Syrian tanks destroyed in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Syrian tanks destroyed in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.Credit: Roman Frister
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Claims that a famous story of Israeli heroism during the Yom Kippur War was fabricated are a “blood libel without even a shred of truth,” the story’s hero said over the weekend.

Zvika Greengold was decorated for having single-handedly destroyed dozens of Syrian tanks in the Golan Heights in October 1973, thereby staving off the Syrian advance with one tank. But in a Channel 2 report on Friday, two retired officers claimed the entire story was made up by Greengold’s brigade commander in order to boost morale among the troops.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yair Nafshi, a battalion commander in the same brigade, and Col. (res.) Amnon Sharon, who fought with Greengold before being taken prisoner by the Syrians, told Ch. 2 that the story was faked by giving exaggerated details to Bamahane, an army magazine.

Zvika GreengoldCredit: Yitzhak Krispel

Greengold himself told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily on Sunday that the Channel 2 report was a “blood libel.”

Greengold, now a colonel in the reserves, acknowledged that the headline for the initial report of his heroism – which appeared in Bamahane in 1974 – was problematic: It credited him and his crew with destroying 60 Syrian tanks, whereas he himself has questioned the accuracy of that figure for years, saying he didn’t know how many tanks he destroyed. “But I didn’t invent the headline about the 60 tanks,” he told Yedioth. “Bamahane decided to write it.”

As for why his two colleagues were now challenging the entire story, he said, “Apparently it’s a mixture of jealousy, evil and psychological problems. ... There’s not a shred of truth in [their claim]. I don’t understand why they gave a platform to [people] like that. I live my life quietly and don’t intend to get into this media game.”

“During the Yom Kippur War, 1,200 Syrian tanks invaded Israeli territory,” he added. “Learn the history.”

On Saturday night, Maj. Gen. (res.) Menachem Meron rejected Nafshi and Sharon's claims. “The story of the ‘Tzvika Force’ isn’t a myth, but an act of heroism by Greengold and his comrades in arms,” said Meron, who chaired the committee that awarded medals for the Yom Kippur War, including the one given to Greengold.

Meron told Haaretz that the committee’s members – who included senior, experienced officers from various units – were aware that errors and exaggerations often crept into battle accounts. Therefore, they insisted on verifying and cross-checking their information, he said, and ultimately medals were awarded to only eight soldiers

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